This is Week 2 of Sophia Breene’s #socialmediafast experiment. Read Week 1 to find out the unexpected benefits of social media, and check out Week 0 to learn why she’s giving up social media. Find out how the fast got tough during Week 3 and read the author's final conclusions in Week 4.
This week, I cheated. Like a dieter confronted with a box of cookies, my resolve crumbled when faced with the object of my desire. Last Sunday night, it wasn’t chocolatey doughnuts and cake, but Facebook that tempted me to fall off the wagon.
My late-night weakness was ironic for quite a few reasons. For one, I’d just returned from a weekend camping trip in upstate New York during which my phone refused to work. I had been completely, spontaneously “unplugged” for over 48 hours (which freaked my mom out a little bit, needless to say). You’d think a few days in the woods would make social media less tempting, not more so.
The second reason the social media binge was a bit silly is that I’d just finished editing Nick’s excellent article on binge disorders. Did I know what I was doing (and the scientific, chemical, and socio-cultural reasons why I was doing it)? Absolutely. But the second I pulled up Facebook, the lively photos, fun event invitations, and witty status updates sucked me in. I couldn’t stop scrolling.
Get Me Outta Here
It was a rollercoaster of emotion from the first “Like.” I felt guilty that I’d failed to acknowledge acquaintances’ birthdays, jealous that friends were taking exotic vacations, and middle-school-girl giddy at the sheer number of notifications, invitations, and friend requests I’d garnered in such a short period of time.
But the overarching emotional reaction was plain, simple anxiety. As I clicked, browsed, and photo-stalked, the tide of information threatened to swallow me alive. I’d been out of the loop for so long (two weeks is ages in Internet-land) that I felt hopeless — there was no way I’d ever catch up. I was so far behind that part of me figured I might as well give up.
Which is exactly what I did. I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to delete (or, to be technical, “deactivate”) my Facebook account. Sometimes it’s easier to avoid the temptation altogether, which is the reason I never buy the ingredients required to make a microwave mug cake. Because when push comes to shove, my willpower is wanting. I want this fast to be legitimate so I can gain actual insights and achieve actual independence from social media. For me, the best way to do that is to totally remove the possibility of (another) slip-up.
I’m no psychoanalyst, but I think I understand why I “cheated” on my social media fast. After a tough week at work and a weekend hiking trip, I hadn’t seen any of my friends in quite a few days. And even though I know social media isn’t the same as actual, real-life interactions, a part of me probably wanted to reach out to my buddies and see what they were up to. My slip-up shows that I use social media as a crutch for when I want to feel “social” but can’t summon the energy to make a phone call or meet a friend for coffee. It reinforced for me that the point of my social media fast is not to totally cut myself off and go off the grid. It’s to focus on real-life relationships.
It seems that every week on this fast I’m learning something new (and totally unconscious) about my social media usage. This week’s insight has definitely opened my eyes (and shut down my Facebook account).
Would you ever delete your Facebook account? Have you deleted it and never looked back? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet @Greatist (don’t tweet @SophBreene since nobody’s home for another two weeks!).